A ‘hospital at home’ service for elderly patients who are at more risk of falls, disability or long-term health conditions, has launched in North East London for the first time.
The ‘hospital at home’ service, also known as The Tower Hamlets Frailty Virtual Ward allows patients to receive hospital-level care at home safely and in familiar surroundings, helping speed up their recovery while freeing up hospital beds for patients that need them most.
Since its launch in June, the service has cared for 52 patients at home and each patient remains under the hospital’s care for up to 14 days. In a short space of time the service has saved 494 bed days.
The hospital at home team is multidisciplinary. This means it’s made up of a range of different healthcare professionals, from nurses and doctors to therapists and administrative staff.
Patients can benefit from a number of different hospital services under their own roof. This can include blood tests, administering medications, monitoring observations, therapy assessments and the provision of equipment to help a patients’ mobility.
Evidence shows that lying in a hospital bed for prolonged periods of time can lead to worse health outcomes for frail patients.
At home, elderly people take part in routine activities like walking around their homes, talking to friends and family, and cooking meals. However, the immobile nature of remaining in a hospital bed leads to an increased risk of falling, catching infections and reduced mental wellbeing.
86-year-old great grandmother Elizabeth, pictured above, on holiday following her recovery recently used the hospital at home service after she broke her coccyx following a fall. She said:
“I much preferred being given the opportunity to heal up at home instead of at the hospital. I don’t like sitting in one place and like to get out and do things. So being cooped up in hospital is something I was glad to avoid.
“The team also organised for some workman to come round and make changes to the house to make it more accessible for me, which was great!
“Being able to stay at home with my granddaughter and dog Gizmo was a real benefit - and of course, cook my own food! “.
Rachel Keith, lead nurse for frailty said:
“We’ve seen an excellent response and feedback from the patients who have been treated by the Frailty Virtual Ward Team so far.
"Data from NHS England shows that virtual wards support increased patient choice and personalised care, allowing patients to be treated in a more comfortable home environment.”